Prioritizing Our Values
Would you steal a chocolate bar? What if you got money to do it? What if you had the guarantee that you wouldn’t be caught? If your answer is “no”, meaning you would not steal, then the next question is why not? For many of us, our answer is rooted to our values. Values like integrity, honesty, trust, truth, justice, fairness, ethics, community, faith, love, etc. could all be at the core of the “no, I would not steal”.
Values can significantly influence how we process information, the decisions that we make, and direct our behaviours. Values subconsciously drive our thoughts, feelings, actions, and attitudes. Values are most influential on our effectiveness with time management, when we have contemplated and evaluate our uppermost values in life.
Values are defined as basic convictions of personally or socially preferred conduct or end-states of existence. Values carry a significant amount of importance and desire, and are key to motivation, self-determination, resolution of conflicts, and a purposeful life.
For many of us, our values are held as firm beliefs, that we are unwilling to negotiate, compromise, or change. Some of the few reasons that we would ever be prepared to negotiate, compromise, or change a value, involve getting new information, developing new beliefs, and/or other values “out ranking” the value in question.
To provide some examples, let’s continue the “What if….” line of questioning to “Would you steal a chocolate bar?” What if you are part of a reality television show, and stealing was an accepted strategy to winning the game? Would you change, compromise, or negotiate your values against stealing in this circumstance? What if you had no money, and hadn’t eaten for days? Would your value for survival out rank your values against stealing? What if you had a child that depends on you to provide food for their survival, and you had no money? Would your value of survival and family, out rank your values against stealing?
Time Management with Our Priority Values
The best quality decisions and actions, how we spend our time and our lives, are supported by having our top values at the forefront of our conscious mind, and embedded in our subconscious mind. Here are some steps that we can take to clarify our values:
- Randomly list all of our values. (i.e. learning, family, health, finances, communication, freedom, positivity, gratitude etc.)
- Make some notes on why the values are important to you. (i.e. learning is important to growing and developing as a human being, and understanding and appreciating all that the world and others have to offer.)
- Rank your top three to ten values. (i.e. #1 learning, #2 family, #3 independence, etc.)
- Make sure that your values are aligned with your goals. (i.e. the value of learning is aligned with the goal of completing another certificate program at university.)
- Outline how you are going to act on your values to demonstrate their importance in your life. (i.e. for the value of learning: take classes, read books, research on-line, attend workshops, etc.)
If we don’t take these steps to clarify our values, we can experience a values gap. A values gap occurs when the behaviours that we exhibit, do not consistently match the values that we have. If we agree that four of the most valuable resources and assets that we have as human beings, include our time, energy, mental focus, and money, then these resources and assets need to be aligned with our top values. The best way to identify if we have a values gap in our life, which we can all have, and some of us at several times in our lives, is to take a look at our calendar over the last 30 days. When we look at how we spend our time, energy, mental focus, and money over the last 30 days, are we spending our assets and resources on our top values? If not, this signals an opportunity to realign our values with our behaviours.
So what’s the value of living in alignment with our primary values? Most with agree, life fulfillment through authentic living, which includes grounded decision-making, actions, and behaviours! We only have so much time, energy, mental focus, and money.
How are you spending your assets and resources?